I am Carla Yustak, a 35 year old who has been living in Edmonton, Alberta for 8 years. I have a Physical Education degree in Outdoor Pursuits and an Education degree in Elementary Education.
I have been teaching grade two and Physical Education for 7 years to Native Cree children in Hobbema, Alberta. I have always enjoyed outdoor activities. I started backpacking and rock climbing with the "Alberta Explorers" club from high school. (In 1982, this group participated in a project called "Exercise Robson Triangle" under the guidance of Chris Hamilton. Ten men from the RHF (Royal Highland Fusiliers) also participated in this project. There was an attempt made to reach the summit of Mt. Robson during this time.)
I was now hooked on climbing, which led to my interest in the Outdoor Pursuits program at the University of Calgary. I met Tom Whittaker in 1983 through my professor Bill March. I went sea kayaking with the HOGs around the Broken Islands in 1986. This proved to be a great adventure and I was now officially a HOG.
I heard about the All Abilities Trek through Karen March (Bill's wife) in February. I phoned Tom Whittaker to find out about the trip and get my school "on line". During the conversation, Tom asked me if I would like to go along on the trek. I eagerly accepted the invitation and was delighted and grateful to be a part of the group.
The highlight of the Trek for me was a combination of events. Meeting the climbing group and trekking with them to Everest Base Camp was an inspirational experience for me. I also thought that the energy of the whole group being together, empowered and encouraged both trekkers and climbers to be successful during the trek and climb.
The All Abilities Trek was also fueled by the eager assistance and undaunting efforts of the 24 porters, who were always helpful no matter what situations arose.
I felt the magnificence of being around the Himalayan mountains and people and culture was beyond describable words. It was a feeling of a sense of awe that encompasses one's total being.
My most fearful experience was the first night of the trek at Chapling. I had heard about stomach ailments one could incur. Needless to say I was extra cautious in drinking and washing my hands in only treated water. Unfortunately, the dinner consumed the first night was a cabbage type of stroganoff dish. This proved "gastronomically" fatal for me, through the night. In the morning, it was the Chinese herbal medicine "Pill Curing" given to me by Cindy Deroche, which subsided my stomach ailment!
The funniest/shocking experience occurred going up Namche Hill to Namche Bazar. On the way up, I let a "pack" of 4 yaks go by. The yaks owner stopped the last yak at the bottom of a switchback. He proceeded to hold his yaks tail up and stick his index finger into his yaks rear end to extract the yaks impacted bowel movement stuck inside. This incident lasted only a few moments, in which I was too stunned to take a picture!
I felt the comradery of this group made this trek what it was. I am now in the company of lifelong friends. (A big thank you to Cindy and Tom Whittaker, Jeff Brandt, Cindy and Steve Deroche and anyone else who was involved in making this vision a possibility). This is one trip that will not soon be forgotten.